AYS SPECIAL: Violent push-backs continue across the Balkans
The past days, two testimonies of unlawful and violent push-backs were recorded by No Name Kitchen in Velika Kladuša, BiH. Sexual harassment was a part of the abuse these people, including women and children, suffered from while crossing the border. Both incidents happened only days after this report was published, which covered several cases of border violence recorded during July.
The following two reports were conducted in Bosnia, and the incidents altogether include a total of 28 individuals.
1. VIOLENT, ILLEGAL PUSH-BACK FROM CROATIA TO BOSNIA
NUMBER OF VICTIMS: 15 (interview with an Iranian woman from the group, with the help of a translator from Farsi to English).
NAMES: M., single mother (interviewed)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: M. and her son are from Iran, the rest of the group are from Pakistan.
AGE: M. is 47 years old and other adults are between 22 – 45 years old, the age of minors is stated below. SEX: both males and females (single men and families).
MINORS IN THE GROUP: 5 (14-17 years old)
COUNTRY AND LOCATION WHERE THE INCIDENT HAPPENED:
The police caught the whole group in the Croatian inner land, in a forest close to Perjašica. The violent attacks by the Croatian border police took place by the Croatian-Bosnian border, near the official check-point in Velika Kladuša.
DATE AND TIME OF THE INDICENT: 03/08/2018, 1 am (detention), 4 am (violent attack by the police).
TYPE OF INCIDENT: push back x denied access to asylum procedures x deportation x verbally threatened x robbed x physical violence
DESCRIPTION OF INDICENT: When I met M., she was crying, and started telling me the story about the previous night when her, her son, and other men were violently pushed back from the Croatian inner land back to Bosnia:
“I am a woman from Iran. I just wanted to go to Slovenia, but the police caught me on the way and they were beating me badly on my legs and the whole body. The police took all my money, 500 euros, and put inside of their pockets. They took all our mobiles, they took my son’s laptop, they slapped me on my mouth and everywhere. They acted like animals, they are not humans. I am 47 years old and had my child with me, a son, 14-years old. They also hit my son, they slapped him into his face” [M.].
M. further explained to me that she, her son and other 13 people walked for seven days from Velika Kladuša to Croatia and wanted cross further to Slovenia to apply for asylum there. M.explained to me that she needed to seek safety in Europe because she left her violent husband who would kill her if she stayed in Iran. When the whole group was walking in the Croatian inner land, close to the road E65 nearby the town called Perjašica, around 1 am, they were caught by the Croatian police. The officers talked to the whole group politely, questioned them about their nationality and the reasons of entering Croatia. After that, this police group stole all mobile phones from everyone and handed them over to the Croatian border police for their deportation back to Bosnia. No one from the group was taken to a police station and enabled the access to asylum procedures although some of them clearly stated that they wanted to apply for asylum in Croatia.
During the transportation to the Bosnian border, a car was driving fast and was turning from one side to another that people inside were falling from their seats. The border police drove the whole group to the Bosnian border, to a forest around 10 km from the makeshift camp in Velika Kladuša, and told them to get off the car three by three. According to M., the police firstly stole everyone’s money and all their possessions, including 500 euros from M., which was the last money that she had, as well as M’s son’s laptop. All other men were taken by the officers between 50 and 100 euros each. Following the frisk of everyone’s bodies and rubbing them, two police men stood up by the car and four others created the row few meters from the car, preparing for the violent deportation of the whole group to Bosnia:
“Two police men were standing in front and other four were standing by the border, if we want to run somewhere. You know, one guy, he wanted to run. But they pick him up from his back and threw him down and were beating him badly. And other three men who wanted to run away, they sent a dog to chase them, so they stopped” [M.]. After, he slapped me into my mouth. He also slapped my son. One man was electric shocked into his body. ...
At the end of the interview, M. told me:
“I came here for the future of my son. I said to the police my problem and was begging them, “Please!” and crying, “Please!”. But they were just laughing: “Ha, ha, ha, ha!”. I told them that I was alone [crying]. I travelled 7 days in the jungle for my son. I said: “Please, police, your country help me.” But they did not take us to the police station, no asylum procedure, they illegally deported us. They took our mobile, our money, they are thieves, not police men” [M.].
INJURIES AND MEDICAL TREATMENT: Waiting for the medical report by MSF.
EXPRESSED INTENTION TO SEEK ASYLUM IN THE COUNTRY: Yes, denied.
DOCUMENTS SIGNED: No.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE PERPETRATORS
PERPETRATORS: Those involved in the violent attack by the Bosnian border were two policemen and four border army police in black suits, wearing masks. M. and other men from her group described one of the perpetrators in the following way:
“The man who was beating the most, he was very thin and small face, little hair, and moustache, and his teeth were big outside of his mouth. And he was beating and laughing. He had a normal police uniform, blue shirt.”
After that, the police told the people to go back to Bosnia but when they started walking from the car, the police started physically attacking them with metal batons and electric cattle, including the women and children:
“They were hitting us and laughing at our backs. They had both sticks and electric sticks. One police man hit me that I fall on the ground, and after he was hitting me by a baton, and after every hit he was laughing: “Ha, ha, ha, ha!”.
When we were walking back to the camp, we stopped, and all were crying together for few minutes because it was very hard time for us. And after, we went back to the camp [in Velika Kladusa]” [M.].
2. ILLEGAL PUSH BACK OF FAMILIES AND WOMEN FROM SLOVENIA TO BOSNIA
NUMBER OF VICTIMS: 13 (two families and two single men)
NAMES: Madina and Asma (two women from the families who were the main interviewees)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Afghanistan and Iran.
AGE: 10 years old — 47 years old.
SEX: Males and Females.
MINORS IN THE GROUP: Yes, 6 minors involved: a boy 8 years old, two boys 10 years old, one boy 12 years old, one girl 11 years old, and one girl 15 years old (Asma, interviewed).
COUNTRY AND LOCATION WHERE THE INCIDENT HAPPENED: Slovenian inner land, a forest close to ‘Ilirska Bistrica’.
DATE AND TIME OF THE INDICENT: 05/08/2018
TYPE OF INCIDENT: push back x denied access to asylum procedures x deportation x verbally threatened x robbed x damage of mobile phones x sexual harassment x religious discrimination
DESCRIPTION OF INDICENT: The whole group of 13 people, two families with children and two single men, walked for ten days from Bihac (Bosnia) through the mountains to Slovenia. Once they reached Slovenia, they were running out of food and water and drunk only few sips from a bottle per few hours, including children, although it was 35 degrees calcium hot. When the whole group was walking in a forest, close to the village Ilirska Bistrica, they were caught by the Slovenian police. Asma’s husband told the police officers that they wanted to apply for asylum in Slovenia and stay
there, but he received the following response: “Tomorrow deport, you can’t stay here. Here is not Afghanistan or Iran.” Then, the Slovenian police stripped them all naked, including women and children, and frisked their bodies:
“I said to the police that I was a Muslim and refused to take off my clothes. But they said, “No problem” and took off all my clothes. They forced me to take all my clothes off, and kept repeating to me: “Picko Matre, Picko Matre”. The children were crying too much. After, the police told me and other women maybe five times or six times to take off our scarfs, but I did not want to. My son was scared and told me: “Mum, please, remove your scarf because otherwise maybe they hit you.” I was crying. And the police removed the scarf from my head and threw it on the ground. It was very difficult for me. The policeman told me: “This is the last time that you wore your scarf. Here is not Afghanistan, here is Slovenia, here is no Islam!”” [Asma].
Following the frisk of everyone naked bodis, all people were transported by a car to a police station. Asma saw an UNHCR and IOM staff in the police station and though that they would helped them with the asylum procedures. But no one from the UNHCR neither from IOM communicated with them throughout the whole time they were in the police station. The families were only provided an Iranian translator, who was questioning them about their names, nationalities, where they entered Slovenia from, and what their intentions were in Slovenia. The whole group spent one day in the Slovenian police station, and during that time, the Slovenian police officers were acting rood to them:
“You know, my little sister she was crying because of the police. I did not understand their language. But she understood them because she went to the school in Serbia, which is similar language to Slovenian. She said to us that they [Slovenian police] were using bad words, when they kept shouting at us: “Jebem ti picko matre!”. And my little sister was crying because of that” [Madina].
The police took photographs of everyone, took their fingerprints, and the translator told them to sing a document that was written in the Slovenian language, so that none of them understood what was written there. When Asma asked the translator to explain what they were supposed to sing, he just told them to sing it and stop asking any questions. After they signed the document, they were taken by a car to Croatia:
“[Slovenian] police put all men into one car, very bad car. It was closed and there was no oxygen, so the men could not breath. Police was smiling in the car and laughing at the men that they could not breath properly and did not feel well. They were in that car for 5 hours and half” [Asma].
In Croatia, all people were handed over to the Croatian police who directly deported them to the Bosnian border. Croatian police drove the whole group to the Bosnian border near Velika Kladusa official border check-point, where the police broke their phones (stealing their batteries and memory cards and destroying their charging stations):
“I had all my memories from Iran in my phone, pictures of my mother who died, my sister, but I lost it all now. They took it and now we don’t have any memory with our family in Afghanistan [crying]” [Asma].
The police then told everyone to stand in the row and go back to Bosnia. The officers were kicking adults into their legs if they walked a bit out of the row. Once they crossed the border and the police stopped following them, the whole group walked to the makeshift camp in Velika Kladusa.
INJURIES AND MEDICAL TREATMENT: No.
EXPRESSED INTENTION TO SEEK ASYLUM IN THE COUNTRY: Yes, denied.
DOCUMENTS SIGNED: Yes, in the Slovenian language without the translation to English or Farsi. No copy provided.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE PERPETRATORS
PERPETRATORS: The main perpetrators who were verbally threatening the family were two Slovenian police officers, one woman wearing glasses and one tall man.
06/08/2018 Velika Kladuša (Bosnia)
Recorded interview by No Name Kitchen
We strive to echo correct news from the ground through collaboration and fairness.
Every effort has been made to credit organizations and individuals with regard to the supply of information, video, and photo material (in cases where the source wanted to be accredited). Please notify us regarding corrections.
If there’s anything you want to share or comment, contact us through Facebook or write to: firstname.lastname@example.org